Best birthday gift ideas: Subscription boxes, gear, and more cool stuff
Spouses, parents, partners, and beyond: These are our best birthday gift ideas for the ones closest to you (and hardest to shop for).
There’s a specific pressure to birthday gifts since the entire idea of the birthday is celebrating that one particular person. The best gifts show you know them, you get them, and you want their life to be a bit more pleasant from what you buy. So…how do you know what to buy? Let us help. We researched and narrowed down a huge selection of what’s on offer to find 10 top-notch gifts that are as useful as they are enjoyable, things they’ll love and maybe wouldn’t have thought of or followed through on for themselves. Which, really, is what makes the very best birthday gift ideas.
- Best birthday gift basket: Carmen & Lola A Little Bit of Spain Gift Box
- Best birthday gift subscription box: Bean Box Sampler Coffee Subscription
- Best birthday gift for dad: Casaluna Chunky Knit Bed Blanket
- Best birthday gifts for mom: Apple AirPods Pro
- Best birthday gift for wife: Theragun Elite
- Best birthday gift for husband: YETI Roadie 24 Cooler
- Best birthday gift for girlfriend: Vitruvi Stone Diffuser
- Best birthday gift for your boyfriend: Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece Jacket
- Best personalized birthday gifts: Personalized Photo Accent Pillow
- Best birthday gift under $15: Opalhouse Cast Sunburst Frame
A quick, reliable gift guide to the best presents the internet has to offer
Go ahead and light the birthday candles, because your gift shopping for those closest to you is just a few clicks away from finished. Find the best birthday gift ideas here.
Best birthday gift basket: Carmen & Lola A Little Bit of Spain Gift Box
Travel has been limited and snacks have been saving us, so what better contents for a birthday gift basket than an assemblage of specialty meats, cheeses, and other accouterments from Spain? In particular, name-controlled cheeses like creamy Manchego (sheep’s milk from La Mancha region) and nutty Mahon (cow’s milk from Menorca), or smoky V de Navarra from Basque Country. Add in some chorizo, jamón, quince jelly, and Marcona almonds, and that, dear friends, is a birthday feast. Ordering a gift basket online can be dicey (we’ve spent a long time in the murky depths of reviews sections), but this set from the purveyor of fancy Spanish hams Dao Gourmet Foods (a.k.a., Carmen & Lola Eat España!) gets only top marks.
Best birthday gift subscription box: Bean Box Sampler Coffee Subscription
The best thing about a birthday gift subscription box? Presents keep coming! The worst thing about a birthday gift subscription box? Stuff can start to pile up. The solution: A subscription to something consumable, with bonus points for something they wouldn’t splurge on for themselves. Enter: this coffee sampler, which sends four pouches of award-winning small-batch beans each month (you choose light, medium, dark, decaf, or espresso roast). Sourced from independent roasters in the coffee haven that is the Pacific Northwest, it’s a way for the recipient to try out an abundance of makers and blends they’ve seen on coffee IG. Want to make the first month extra bright? We like this mug.
Best birthday gift for dad: Casaluna Chunky Knit Bed Blanket
It’s been a long, long homebound year, we’re all tired of being in the same place, and your dad is no exception. Except that you can easily supply him with a quick fix by way of a shot of color to liven up his relaxation time or TV-watching. Saturated colors and a textural knit make this blanket stand out, while its simplicity means it will look great anywhere. It’s not a weighted blanket, but it does have a nice heft of 6-plus pounds, which means that not only will it be comfortable, it will be calming too. And no matter the stage of fatherhood, it’s a perfect birthday gift for dad: Empty-nester dads can cozy up with Netflix or a book, and dads of toddlers snuggle the kiddos underneath…or temporarily hide when needed.
Best birthday gift for mom: Apple AirPods Pro
In-ear noise-cancellation may sound like something dreamed up by a coach passenger stuck in the middle seat on a transatlantic flight (definitely not speaking from personal experience…), but Apple made it happen in an earbud, a big step up in convenience and in comfort—particularly for people who wear glasses—from the over-the-ear variety. All to say: This year, your birthday gift for mom can be all the sound she wants, and none that she does not. The AirPod Pros are worth the upgrade from the standard AirPods for their variable-fit earpieces, which allow not only for noise cancellation but for better sound, and more secure (and comfortable) fit. If this price point seems crazy for headphones, we hear you, but we strongly counter: Even Luddite-leaning technophobes (again, definitely not speaking from personal experience…) have been quickly won over after trying these out.
Best birthday gift for wife: Theragun Elite
Whether due to work stress or a hard workout, tense muscles are miserable. And while we are sure your wife does love your neck rubs, we are also sure you aren’t coming in with up to 40 lbs of force at a variety of programmable speeds to actually release deep into soft tissue. That is, unless, you’re the one holding the Theragun. So, a birthday gift for her (that you are likely to borrow, if not steal): Now in its fourth iteration, this Theragun is quieter than its predecessors, and it comes with a variety of attachments to swap out depending on the problem muscles. Theragun also offers a host of guided videos and tutorials, as well as an app that connects to the tool to provide personalized massage programming.
Best birthday gift for husband: YETI Roadie 24 Cooler
As at home at a barbecue or tailgate as it is at a campsite, the YETI Roadie 24 is an updated model with more space and insulation, less weight. More space in a cooler-specific way, too, as it’s sized for wine bottles to be able to be packed in vertically, and can fit 18 beers plus ice. (Do note that there’s not a drain plug—our educated guess: insulation reasons—so be sure to empty and dry it out at the end of each use.) We like YETI for its marrying of form and function for a truly useful item that you—or your husband, it’s him we’re shopping for—will actually enjoy using. For example, the quick-to-use, super-secure latches, as well as the cloth-strapped, hard-gripped handle that makes for steady carrying without adding awkward bulk for storage. A great birthday gift for husbands who like the outdoors, whether it’s their own backyard, the beach, or the woods.
Best birthday gift for girlfriend: Vitruvi Stone Diffuser
It looks good. It smells good. It’s basically a scented candle that lasts forever and can change at your whim—and that you can safely leave going when you’re asleep or out of the house. It is something like the Platonic ideal of a “birthday gift for girlfriend.” The main areas where Vitruvi succeeds that other diffusers fail: its sturdy stone build that means it won’t easily get knocked over and spill; being designed for easy cleaning means no questionable residue also being diffused into your air; its sleek shape means the mist diffuses efficiently, without a clunky thing taking over a shelf. If we may, we’d suggest pairing it with this bundle of Vitruvi oils. If spending a hundred bucks is outside of your budget, try this more-affordable Kumi model.
Best birthday gift for your boyfriend: Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece Jacket
A good men’s jacket is surprisingly hard to find, and this jacket is a great one. (For the earth, too: Patagonia uses 100 percent recycled materials to make it.) With a tailored cut that doesn’t limit mobility and three sewn-flat pockets, this fleece wears well on the street or the trails. It also washes well and comes from a brand known for durability, which is to say: This is a gift for him that will last well beyond his next birthday, too. If you’re budget won’t allow for our premium pick, take a look at the Amazon Essentials fleece jacket, which comes in a ton of great colors.
Best personalized birthday gift: Personalized Photo Accent Pillow
Sometimes, the best birthday gifts are personalized birthday gifts, whether that means really showing you understand a person in your pick, or, you know, having your face printed on it! Or a picture that’s important to them, a cute dog you found on the internet, you make the call—and it’s a remarkably affordable personalized gift, with fast shipping, too—so you might even have some fun with multiples. Options for antique (in a trendy kind of way) or modern borders open up the style range. Although our aesthetic opinion: keep the photo black-and-white, regardless of the border.
Best birthday gift under $15: Opalhouse Cast Sunburst Frame
A good, cheap birthday gift idea: Something that carries meaning. Even better: put in something shiny for the home. Target’s Opalhouse brand line pretty consistently nails the well-traveled, boho-chic vibe, and this frame is no exception. The golden cast-aluminum frame looks far fancier than its price tag, and at roughly 6 inches across, it adds a good burst of liveliness to the recipient’s shelves without making demands for too much real estate in their home. Now all you have to decide is what picture to put inside. For something a little simpler than a golden sun, we also like this light-wood woven frame from Opalhouse.
It’s all gonna be OK: The best birthday gifts are just a few clicks away
You want the best birthday gift ideas so you can give cool, unique gifts to those close to you. That is, after all, why you are reading a gift guide. Good news: You have read the gift guide! You are ready to do this! Now listen to your gifting gut, scroll back through, and get to clicking.
PopSci wants to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: great Mother’s Day gifts, DIY gifts for Mom, and more Mother’s Day gift ideas.